International Journal of Energy Research, Vol.37, No.14, 1928-1936, 2013
General sustainability indicator of renewable energy system based on grey relational analysis
This research answers the question of how to measure the sustainability of a renewable energy systems (RESs) as a physical parameter. Renewable energy is considered as a solution for mitigating the energy crisis, climate change and environmental pollution; however, an important problem of its application is that it is very difficult to evaluate the sustainability of RESs. This study develops a general sustainability indicator which is a tool to evaluate sustainability of RESs precisely and comprehensively. Based on the Triple Bottom Line approach, 11 Basic Sustainability Indicators with different dimensions and various units are selected from environmental, economic and social sustainability assessment criteria. In order to deal with the uncertainties in the definition and the assessment of sustainability, the grey regression analysis method is employed to quantify the basic indicators and to aggregate them into the general indicator. In addition, for explaining application of the general indicator, the cases of four RESs in hot-arid Australia are presented. In the case study, the grey indicator is used to assess the sustainability of four systems with different combinations of grid, solar photovoltaic and wind renewable energy. The final results are compared with the general indicator based on fuzzy sets theory developed in previous studies. It is found that for the case of Australian system, the grey sustainability indicator has a good linear correlation to the fuzzy indicator results. The grey indicator is an effective way to assess the sustainability of RESs and provides a good tool for designers, users, decision makers and researchers. Copyright (c) 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.